Hard to Swallow

As you know from many, many posts on here, I am a big fan of ‘real’ food. I love cooking, especially using ingredients I have grown myself or that have come from producers I know. Of course, this isn’t always possible – we’re short of wheat-growers in Ceredigion, for example. However, most of what we eat Chez Snail, I make from scratch and processed foods do not feature much in our diet. This  happened gradually over the years and has been helped by the fact that, for the last 10 years, I have mostly worked from home, so that I can intermingle earning a living, growing food and cooking. I do understand the challenges of living in a city and going out to work every day when it comes to sourcing and eating good food, so I’m really not criticising anyone who can’t do what I do.

IMGP3955My motivations are many, but mainly I like to know what’s in the food I’m eating. My suspicious about the content of processed and packaged foods have, however, been not only confirmed, but greatly surpassed by a book that I read recently: Swallow This by Joanna Blythman. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – it is a real eye-opener, revealing, for example, the fact that anything that can be classified as a “processing aid” does not need to be declared in the ingredients of a product. This means that things like enzymes that can be used to change the flavour or consistency of an ingredient/product but none of which remains in the finished food do not need to be mentioned – not even if that enzyme is derived from animals and the product is for vegetarians.

From ‘clean labelling’ to ‘modified atmosphere packaging’, the food industry abounds with ways to dupe us into thinking that the food we buy is ‘fresh’ or ‘natural’ when it is anything but. For years we have been told that saturated fats are bad for us, so the food industry has gone out of its way to create low fat foods that are, instead, heavy on the carbohydrates to give them desirable ‘creamy’ textures (low fat, Greek-style yoghurt, anyone?). There is an ever-growing body of evidence, however, showing that saturated fats are not the health problem that we have all been led to believe but that there are issues associated with eating loads of carbohydrates and that polyunsaturated fats are not the panacea they have been made out to be…. and as for margarine, let’s just not go there!

If you are looking for motivation to cook more and source more products direct from producers, Swallow This may be just what you need to read… you will certainly never read the ingredients on a flavoured yoghurt or look at a bag of salad leaves the same way again. Whatever your position, though, I highly recommend this book – it is in all our interests to be knowledgeable about the food we eat.


It’s good to know what’s in your food…

8 Meals 8

… and even better to have grown it yourself

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